Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/206

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

the principles and practice of their own Government from the beginning? That Government was founded and based upon the political axiom that all States and peoples have the inalienable right to change their forms of government at will. This principle was acted on in the recognition by the United States of the South American republics. It was the principle acted on in the recognition of Mexico. It was acted on in the struggle of Greece to overthrow the Ottoman rule. On that question, the great constitutional expounder of the North, Mr. Webster, gained his first laurels as an American statesman. This principle was acted on in the recognition of the Government of Louis Philippe, on the overthrow of Charles X. of France; and again in the recognition of the Lamartine Government, on the overthrow of Louis Philippe in 1848. The same principle was again acted upon without dissent in 1852, in the recognition of the Government of Louis Napoleon; and in the recognition of Texas, when she seceded, or withdrew, from the Government of Mexico. Well may any and every one, North or South, exclaim, What is all this for? What have we done to the North? When have we ever wronged them? We quit them, it is true, as our ancestors and their ancestors quit the British Government. We quit as they quit — upon a question of constitutional right. That question they determined for themselves, and we have but done the same. What, therefore, is all this for? Why this war on their part against the uniform principles and practice of their own Government? It is a war, in short, on their part against right, against reason, against justice, against nature. If asked on our side what is all this for, the reply from every honest breast is that it is for home, for firesides, for our altars, for our birthrights, for property, for honor, for life — in a word, for everything for which freemen should live, and for which all deserving to be freemen should be willing, if need be, to die."

He opposed earnestly some of the financial measures of the administration of Mr. Davis during the war, as he also did the Conscription Act and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, but his friendly intercourse with President Davis and Cabinet was not broken. He said "these differences, however wide and thorough as they were, caused no personal break between us," a statement concurred in by Mr. Davis. When Mr. Davis was charged with being guilty of cruel treatment of Northern prisoners of